Defining Insanity

Some people define insanity as \”doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result\”. As for me, I would define it this.

In case you are too lazy to go read the article, or the link has expired, here are a few snippets that caught my eye:

\”Davis is part of a rising tide of Minnesota commuters leaving home long before sunrise — a group whose ranks are swelling by 10,000 people each year, new census figures show. More than 300,000 are out the door by 6 a.m., nearly twice as many as in 1990.\”

\”\’It really tells us something about the American character: that we will trade almost everything to get what we want\’ … \’Long drives before sunrise, the cost, the inconvenience, the loss of family time\’\”

\”If family time is a victim of the extended commute, however, many of those who do it say they\’re doing it for the kids. In fact, some return to the small towns they themselves grew up in, hoping to give the kids the same experience they had.\”

That last one is the classic explanation people use for when they move far outside of any metro area. \”I did it for my children.\”

All of us here at SP grew up in a small town. Austin was a good place to raise a family during the time we grew up. However, times have changed in Austin and it isn\’t quite the same \”safe\” small town it used to be; but how many of these \”safe\” small towns are left… or were all that safe to begin with? The positives of the small town always include the schools. A smaller school is perceived to be safer, and just better. But how many schools can afford to provide top of the line facilities, both classrooms and extra curriculars? What kind of quality of life are you providing for your children when you may only see for an hour a day? How many small towns have museums (I\’m not sure if the SPAM museum counts here), how diverse are the populations, how much is there to do?

Beyond the children, what kind of toll does spending that much time commuting each week do to a person\’s health and mental well-being? I\’ve been long confused with people who have moved outside the 2nd ring of suburbs here in the Twin Cities, so the thought of moving more than 60 miles away from your place of work seems unthinkable.

Now to appeal to the Republicans out there, the article also addresses the costs these commuters place on infrastructure. I love the quote from the Mayor of Mora in the article, \”Truth is, we\’d love to have a four-lane road up here … if you know anyone whose arm we can twist, we\’d love to hear about it.\” That four-lane road would be paid for by you and me. There is mention of Gov. Pawlenty looking at \”fuel-neutral mileage charges\” (why does T-Paw have such a hard-on for \”user fees\”???), but I doubt any system that would have the government monitor how much driving you do would not make it past any Republican or Democrat.

I suppose I shouldn\’t fault people who are trying to give their families what they believe to be a better life, but I wonder if many of them ponder the costs involved. Most notably, their time. As for me, I can\’t put a price on my 15 minute commute. Actually, I probably can, it\’s called my mortgage.







8 responses to “Defining Insanity”

  1. anderswa Avatar

    wadE is lucky with his commute. i’d love to work that close to home. with no traffic, my commute is about 25 minutes. on rainy days, such as today, it’s over 60. and i pretty much despise every motherhumping minute of it. but, i accept it (for now, anyway) in exchange for living someplace that’s not assaulted by the freeway and airport noise that is intrinsic to the city and most inner-ring ‘burbs.

    a twist: given the sprawl that is going to happen with any growing metro area, how ’bout investing more in public transportation vs. more and more roads? or is that just un-american of me to suggest?

  2. Explosive Bombchelle Avatar

    This could mark the major differences in where we grew up. I hardly notice car noise or airplane traffic having grown up under the JFK and LaGuardia landing path, however, I know if my commute lasts longer then 12 minutes I am likely to go postal.

    Somehow the Twin Cities political machines have managed to translate public transportation into something that only liberal nutjobs support and I honestly don’t see the same tenacity against public transportation in any other city. The train and subways are just part of the fabric of NYC and the city would cease to move without them.

  3. sparklegirl Avatar

    When I was living in Atlanta, there was a definite love-hate relationship with public transportation. Within the city, MARTA was outstanding — I took it everywhere. But even first-ring suburbs (let alone those further out than Dunwoody who was facing a 60-minute commute) seemed to flatly reject any possibility of a public-transportation connection to the city. The rationale? Let’s just say that David Cross absolutely pegged it when he said that surburban Atlanta moms who claimed “It’s safer here” really meant “It’s whiter here, you know? It stays white out longer.”

  4. wadE Avatar

    While I would never choose to live as far out as you do Wade, I was really targeting people who live in North Branch, and commute to Eden Prairie. I am guessing you are around 20 miles from work, which is far, but not ridiculous. I think 70 is a bit much… especially if you have to commute “through” the metro. My issue with public transportation is that in a city like Atlanta or Mpls, the center of jobs is not necessarily downtown. Try commuting from Cottage Grove to West Bloomington by bus. 23 miles, would probably take you more than 2 hours by bus. (acutally, a quick check on couldn’t even find a way to do it)

  5. Explosive Bombchelle Avatar

    Cottage Grove has bigger issues then lack of transportation and bad commutes; their town name sounds like it is ripped from Little House on the Prairie.

  6. Bounce Avatar

    This is something Becca and I are having an ongoing conversation about as we look for jobs and a non-rental place to live. There is a certain cost-benefit analysis to be done with mortgage prices vs. cost of commuting. Myself personally I’d rather have a slightly less appealing job at this point and be able to have a short (or non-car) commute. In fact, by passing up on a job offer in Hood River (approx. 65 miles one-way) I did just that. Great job but would have involved a much lower, lower quality of life.

    Of course, we’re fairly fortunate in Portland at this point as we a) have a pretty stellar public transportation system (though less so once you get out in the burbs) and b) the airport flightpaths are over the mountain, not the city 🙂


  7. wadE Avatar

    but that just means that if you live in the mountains (or foothills) you get plane noise… right? 🙂

  8. Cassidy Avatar

    I fully agree that time with family trumps commute time every day and twice on sundays. I’m privileged though, living in Denmark and having the job I have. Twelve minute commute (16 if there’s traffic), 37 hrs a week, 6 weeks of vacation a year and 11 public holidays I can think of off-hand. Public transportation in Copenhagen is pretty good getting into the city, but for me would require two busses and about 40 min to get to work.

    On the other hand, I pay around 50% in tax, all goods have 25% VAT (like sales tax), 200%+ tax on cars – my Toyota Corolla cost over $57,000. Salaries are also a little higher and things work out. Basically I traded in spending power (smaller car, modest household item, etc) for time with family and friends.

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